Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What Makes Me Happy?

I welcomed the four day long weekend and the snow that came with it last week. Monday I ventured out of the house with my three girls in tow, and headed to the store to stock up on groceries ahead of the second blast of snow in the forecast. I love to peruse the endcaps of this particular store looking for a bargain on their orange clearance tags. My eight year old was chatting away non-stop and my two little ones continually dropped their treasured blankies under my feet. In that store there was a little whining and crying albeit brief. Then we went on to Trader Joe's to see what yummies we could find there. More than one time older women made comments like "that's a bunch" or "you've got your hands full!" Agitated, I responded happily "I have one more at home!" And then there was my three year old's loud "Mommy, is that a boy or a girl?" question after being assisted by a young lady who was clearly of an "alternate lifestyle." On the way out my three year old could have cared less about my directions to "stay close to Mommy, we're in the parking lot." At home, naptime was complicated and my son decided to ante up a not-so-pleasing attitude. That night I prayed that the next day would be better.

Getting back into the routine on Tuesday proved to be a challenge for this family of six. Surprisingly, I managed to rise without hitting the snooze button and had a master acheivement of getting a shower before the kids awoke. I had some more grocery items to purchase to complete the ingredient list for some new recipes I wanted to try and again, had several errands to run. My older two were off to school and the younger girls and I were ready to get going. We went on a mini field trip to the pet store, which they loved, and after more frustration with the will of my three year old, we headed onto the store next door. There, my three year old who had just pottied at home asserted that yes, she did have to potty again. After attempting to open the locked bathroom in the back of the store, we had to go to the front to obtain the key which was attached to a rather large bouy of some sort. I lugged my two year old who was wearing her slick and puffy coat still on one hip with large key contraption in hand and held my three year old's hand in the other. Of course after all that, she didn't have to potty....By the time we made it back to the van less than an hour later, I...well, let's just say I had a wardrobe malfunction that took more than a minute to fix in the car. Internally, I was a mess and continued to spiral into a pit of frustration and agitation for the remainder of the day. I could feel my blood pressure rising and felt adrenaline pumping through my blood. My husband had missed out on all the 'fun' for the last few nights - and again tomorrow night because of work meetings. This is all in a week when one child has an oral book report to give in costume, another has an Abe Lincoln log cabin to build, and I am in charge of eight first graders during an all day trip to the zoo on Friday.
Needless to say, I've been overwhelmed.

Exhausted just from the days behind me and from thinking about the days ahead, as soon as the last child was tucked in bed, I attempted to escape. I locked myself in my room with a glass of wine and a bubble bath, my favorite home design magazines piled high beside the tub. I opened the December 2009 issue of Domino magazine -my all time favorite one which was recently discontinued (boo!)- to a page entitled "10 Things That Make Me Happy." The items: a porcelain teapot, "huggable" hangers, an electric citrus press, linen sheets, suede boots, a $70 gallon of paint, a leather bag, a retro shower head, the city of Florence and a bottle of Champagne.

I began to consider what makes me happy....Is it Trader Joes' dark chocolate cover almonds? my family? my husband? my inner confidence? a beautiful home? body image? the events of the day? stylish clothes? the obedience of my children? financial security?

The truth is that I know all of those things will fail me: the almonds will go rancid, my family will hurt me, my husband is a human, my inner confidence is not dependable, I've currently given up on making our rental home pretty, my body will age, the events of any given day are always out of my control, stylish clothes will fade and shrink and eventually go out of style, my children will disobey and sin, and trust me, financial security is relative.

None of the things that come to mind when I think of what I need to be happy are necessarily bad in and of themselves, but using those things to pursue "happiness" is self indulgent nonsense. Seeking everywhere except the throne of God for fulfillment is what I'm really doing when I look to food, beauty and other people for what I truly need from my Creator.

When the things and people in my life do not satisfy and moreover, disappoint, do I wallow in self-pity or do I recognize my sin and MY need for the Savior?!

The last few days and really the last two years almost, have been challenging. During that time we've moved to a new state, been to two funerals of dearly loved ones, gone from homeschooling to private school and back to homeschooling plans for next fall. Physically I am drained, anemic and not getting enough rest. Emotionally, I am on a roller coaster. Spiritually, I feel like I'm wandering in the wilderness with no destination. In every realm I am spent. I want peace in my home and my heart and the world, but ultimately will not find it here. I know I've written this before, but the Lord is really hitting this home to me, and maybe to you too. That perfect peace I want is NOT here!! The only way to get close to it is by trying to be more like my Savior. Having a heart like his, hands that want to work for His kingdom, and having my head saturated in His word. Do I love things that are "pure and noble and good" (Philippians 4) or am I looking for satisfaction with self indulgent entertainment from this world? Do you? Are you?

First, I am going to really try to get more rest and exercise.
Then, I'm going to try serve my family well, praying for them and joyfully serving them and disciplining my children for Christ, and not so they will give me something in return (peace, quiet, rest, obedience...)
Lastly, I must faithfully pursue the Word being fulfilled and even entertained by it. God can transform me through His Word yet, I must open it.

One of my dearest pastor's sermons would often dangle me over the pit of hell, making me recognize my wretched heart, yet EVERY time the same sermon would call me to be convinced of my Savior's perfect work on the cross.

I love these verses below....Note how the phrase "But God...." reveals His character. I've also thrown in a Martin Luther quote that is poignant.

"...this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever." 2 Corinthians 7:5-7 (New International Version)

"Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!" Romans 5:7-9 (New International Version)

"But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them." Genesis 50:19-21 (New International Version)

"So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: "I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!" "
— Martin Luther

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